Some things never get out of style, even strategies to battle guerrillas.
Authorities in Assam’s troubled North Cachar Hills went retro on Tuesday, wiping the dust off a 42-year-old formula to launch a full-scale counter-insurgency operation against the Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) and two factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (the Khaplang and IM factions), which have unleashed a reign of terror in the area.
Violence in this area has so far claimed 47 lives, displaced 6,500 people and seen 550 houses, schools and business establishments reduced to ashes.
The plan entails relocating 10,000 residents of 40 villages to safe clusters in order to minimise collateral damages and deny militants “soft targets”.
“Nine government departments began field verifications today to give shape to the relocation plan,” NC Hills Deputy Commissioner S. Jagannathan told HT from Haflong, the headquarters of North Cachar Hills district, 355 km south east of Guwahati.
“We expect to begin the massive exercise to move 10,000 villagers to 12 safe clusters (six each for Nagas and Dimasas, the two tribes living in the area) to begin soon,” he added.
The idea was first implemented in 1967 to facilitate the army’s sweep against the then underground Mizo National Front (MNF), which is now a recognised political party.
Codenamed Operation Accomplishment, the exercise saw 45,000 residents of 107 villages in present-day Mizoram being relocated to 18 group centres between January 4 and February 23 that year.
The army subsequently launched Operation Sat Sri Akal against the MNF’s armed wing across the vacated villages.
The launch of the field verifications coincided with an attack on a settlement named Thoribasti, some 40 km from district headquarters Haflong by DHD and two factions of nscn (khaplang) and Some houses were razed and one person was injured as the miscreants opened fire.
The incident, ironically, happened when Assam police chief G.M. Srivastava was reviewing the law and order situation in the hills.
Although about 70 companies of security forces are deployed in the hill district, the militant outfits have been carrying on with their attacks.